Reishi over the Millennia
Mushrooms are astoundingly diverse and identifying them and remembering their names can be half the challenge.
If I told you there’s a functional mushroom whose botanical name directly translates to Shining Skin, the Reishi mushroom is likely to be one of the first to come to mind.
The botanical name Ganoderma Lucidum is a combination of Greek and Latin.
The Greek word Ganos means “shining and of course, Derma means skin. The Latin word Lucidum also translates to “shining”.
Known as “lingzhi”, which means “spirit plant”, “herb of spiritual potency”, or “mushroom of immortality” and was often used as a tonic by Buddhist monks to promote meditation and spiritual growth.
Not typically used for cooking due to its bitter taste, this mushroom can be found at the base of deciduous trees, such as plum trees, oak, and maple trees.
This little wonder of nature has many more names from various different cultures and countries, but today I won’t go into those here because there’s something more interesting you need to know about.
Have you ever heard of a document called ‘Materia Medica’?
The term Materia Medica comes from the Latin term from the history of pharmacy for the body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing (i.e., medicines).
These are known as the first medical documents ever compiled and date as far back as the 1st century AD.
The Han Dynasty created their own Materia Medica and it outlined some 365 medicines, of which 252 are herbs.
The Ganoderma Lucidum, the Reishi mushroom, was included in the Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments found in the Mawangdui tomb, which was sealed in 168 BC.
The Complete Collection of Traditional Texts on Chinese Materia Medica, is a 410-volume and 246,000-page collection compiled by the Association of Chinese Culture Research.
This document includes more than 800 bencao (materia medica) classics from 220 BC to 1911 AD.
In China, books that record the sources and applications of medicinal materials are commonly known as bencao (materia medica).
Bencao is a term that literally means “rooted in herbs”, and reflects the fact that most medicinal materials are derived from botanical sources.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
This collection of ancient medicinal data has stood the test of time and become foundational in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The data collection in Materia Medica highlights the value of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a rich source for knowledge-based medical rediscovery.
The documentation of clinical experiences over thousands of years has stood the test of time and poses a significant challenge in selecting the best parts of TCM for modern study and innovation.
When you know, you know
Many of us use traditional Chinese Medicine in our lives in one way or another. We’ve all learned and implemented some of the beneficial concoctions, recipes, or protocols.
As science continues to catch up on the measurable benefits of Chinese Medicine and/or functional mushrooms, we often intuitively know what is beneficial to us.
We know today and have known for thousands of years that documents like Materia Medica have survived.
Do you use any Chinese medicine in your daily life? Perhaps you’ve just started experimenting with functional mushrooms?
In the meantime,